A Not So Frugal Half Term

Its official, I hate half term and not for the reasons you may think. Oh no I have never been one of “those” mums who can’t wait to get the kids back to school, mine never drive me round  the twist really and I enjoy their company, but having the kids off school does come at a price when you are trying to be frugal.

Sure you can search the internet to find free stuff for kids and I have done free entry museums, kids go for £1 train fares, picnics in the park but nothing is ever really free when you think about the cost of travelling to your chosen destination and buying something to eat whilst your out.  As your children become older, like mine,  a sandwich in the car doesn’t exactly cut the mustard, they are more interested in Nando’s or Wagamamas before or after the cinema visit if I’m honest and considering we really don’t do much all year except our annual holiday, I can’t not offer a couple of days out and therefore find myself having spent £60 this week. Ouch.

Yes it feels painful to write it down and I was actually really shocked by the fact I put £100 in my purse and now find myself with only £40 left to go back in the bank/holiday/contingency funds. The worst part about it is remembering where it all went, I know how much a few things cost, like the £10 that went on petrol and £35 on food out for 2 days, as for the other £15? A coffee in Nero’s for £2.50 that still leaves £12.50 unaccounted for, even after emptying my purse and handbag for receipts of any description!

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The only saving grace of the two days out was popping in to a Department store whilst the kids were in the cinema and getting a sample of a Mac face and body foundation I have heard great things about but that I would never buy at full price (who knew Mac decant product for you into a little sample pot) and a perfume sample of Victor and Rolf Flower Bomb perfume which I love. I can never walk past a beauty counter without trying to snag a freebie, it’s all about “luxe for less” after all!

Roll on summer and picnics at the beach, although we have Easter to contend with first! 

How are you finding half term? Spent more than you accounted for?

[Money) A Funny Old Week

Lots of no spend days last week,  in fact although I moaned about my friend saying she would meet me for an all day breakfast at £4.95 with cup of tea included, it turned out to be the only day I actually spent any money!

Mon – No spend.

Tuesday – No spend.

Wednesday – Bus Fare £4, Blow Dry with Junior Training £5, All Day Breakfast £4.95.  Total £13.95.

Thursday – No spend.

Friday – No spend. We don’t do Valentines in this house.

Saturday – No spend.

Sunday – No spend.

Another funny old week of no late night Supermarket bargain hunting and no cheap flowers bought at all last week but I did have a bunch bought by a friend so that saved even more money, thank you S!

I find the easiest way to achieve lots of no spend days is to steer completely clear of the shops!  Once in town and it becomes a different story, I pop into Boots to look on their clearance shelf, I look at clothes, always on the hunt for a bargain, I’m tempted by coffee shops and caramel latte’s so by keeping away from the town centre definitely works for me.  How do you manage to achieve your no spend days and do you have to keep away from the shops to achieve them?

 

[Money] Frugal Things That Have Made Me Happy This Week

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Using up leftovers from the Lamb  joint to make curry. Yummy.

Getting a Blow Dry for £5 from a junior overseen by a senior stylist at my regular salon.

Meeting friends for lunch.  I thought I was just going to her house but received a  text saying she would meet me at a local pub for an all day breakfast for £4.95 which includes tea or coffee and finished off by using the word “bargain”.  I wasn’t happy initially as I had just paid £5 for my hair and £4 for my bus fare that day but reluctantly went to the cashpoint and withdrew another £10, so mixed emotions really although it  made a nice change and was a very good breakfast.

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Free perfume samples.  These always come in handy. I pop them in my bag, ideal for freshening up if you are out and don’t want to carry a bottle of scent, plus it’s a great way to try fragrances you may not have had before.

A friend arriving with tulips.  I love tulips and is my first bunch this year.

Oh and you know the holiday I told you about in my last post, well it turns out hubby used some of our Avios points and got £72 off our BA return journey which only cost us £63 in total to get home in addition to our £32.99 each to fly out! Funny how he forgot to tell me about this and I know we have to wait until the end of August for our getaway but with this awful weather, all I can think about is sunshine, beaches and laying round the pool!

Have a safe weekend and I hope you haven’t been too badly affected by our adverse weather  conditions.  I really wish me and the kids were going somewhere warm for half term but sadly not!

[Travel] Our (Frugal) Summer Holiday Is Booked

By my own admission, I left it rather late to book flights this year. You don’t get cheap last minute flights (fact) and if you are thinking of going on holiday where a package deal isn’t involved, you need to book flights early to get the best prices.

I like to use BA as I often find them cheaper than Monarch or Easyjet and also because you get to carry a handbag along with your hand held suitcase, with Easyjet you don’t, but the flight prices were at their cheapest with my favoured airline when they were first on sale back in September but I didn’t have the money to book then.

Then we had the lead up to Christmas and I still didn’t feel I could book and all the time, prices were going up and up, with all the airlines.

We are lucky in as much as we go to the same place nearly every summer and have  a good relationship with the couple who manage quite a few apartments on the complex we stay at. If it wasn’t for this and the fact we no longer have to pay a deposit nor a breakages bond, it would have been impossible to book this year but with outgoing August flights for £32.99 and our return journey (with a different airline) for just £45 (58 euros), book we have!

Sacrifices will be made but the whole ethos of this blog is to save money on the essentials to afford the luxuries and if it means taking all of last years holiday wardrobe away with me and not buying anything new, the joy I get from watching my kids messing around together and laughing in the pool whilst I lay on a sun lounger with my book, is absolutely priceless and worth any sacrifice.

Top Tips:-

  • Shop around for flights and don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to use the same airline for both the outbound and inbound flights.
  • Avoid well known comparison sites and check the airlines websites directly. I often find this cheaper as the comparison site has to make money one way or another.
  • If you use separate airlines, your return journey will most likely be listed in the local currency. At the time of booking our return journey, the price in sterling was £45 but in euros, 58.
  • Save money by travelling light.  I never have a problem with packing for 7 nights and hand baggage only.
  • I decant toiletries into containers that hold less than 100ml.
  • If you prefer to take full  size products and are happy to buy your holiday toiletries in one go, order online at Boots for pick up at their Airport branch.  If you do this make sure you order for the correct terminal and you must select  the departures/airside  branch (not landside). Order by 2pm for collection after 2pm the following day.
  • Make sure you wear heavier clothing for travelling rather than packing it in your case. It may be required if the weather isn’t as great as you expected. Jackets, cardigans and trainers might well be a godsend on the airport journey, I’ve arrived back in the UK mid August to torrential rain in flip flops and shorts but have long since learnt my lesson!
  • Create a budget plan of your holidays cost and when it needs to be paid by so that you know how  much you need to save each month.  Do the same for your spending money. It is far easier to spread the cost than be tempted to stick it all on a credit card.
  • We use the local bus service from the airport to our apartment at a cost of 6  euros each as opposed to 100 euros  for a taxi, so do  your research into times and prices if you don’t have transfers included in your holiday.

A quick browse on the clearance shelf in Boots yesterday produced this little beauty which went straight in the holiday drawer.  I’m thinking now that I should of got two! I used my Boots points again, so another freebie for the week!

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Have you booked your summer holiday yet?   Hotel or Apartment? How do you budget  and do you watch the pennies whilst your  away?

Midweek Moneysaver

Fabulous Winter Travel Offers for you!

TRAVEL INSURANCE –  I normally always use a comparison site for my travel insurance but Debenhams have some great deals on at the moment with  single trip policies from just £4.99 plus free gift cards on various policies including travel, life and wedding insurance. Terms and conditions apply but you can find out more here. For example, I can get an annual family of three multi-trip policy for just £34 and get a free £10 gift card, so it is worth getting a quote and kids go free!

FAMILY AND FRIENDS RAIL CARD – If your looking to save money on rail fares over the next 12 months, the Family and Friends rail card has £10 off until 24th February making it just £20.  You have to have at least one child with you when you travel but you can save a 1/3rd on fares. Get further details here.

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FREE STUFF – I’ve been pretty lucky this week, first up a friend gave me two little Molton Brown samples that she got from the Department store she works in. They went straight into the holiday drawer as they are the perfect size for travelling abroad with hand luggage only (which means restrictions of sizes and amounts of liquids you can take) or weekend and overnight stays.

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My second freebie was a £10 beauty gift voucher which came in the goodie bag I got from a new hair salon launch party. I just need to decide whether to put it towards a pedicure or a facial, decisions, decisions! I also got some Goldwell shampoo and conditioner samples and a small pot of hair gel, not that anyone uses it in this house, so along with a couple of glasses of bubbly and a cupcake, it was worth going!

What are your best deals of the week?

 

January Spend, Lessons Learned And Frugal February

 

Food:- £231.27.  Not bad for a family of four. My greatest success was last Sundays pork joint feeding us for three days and a couple of late night supermarket trips where I picked up lots of veggies which were made into soups etc

Utilities – Key Meters:- Gas: £70.00. Electricity £95.00. Always trying to be careful with our gas and electricity costs and consumption. Shame the rest of the family aren’t so good at it! Roll on summer when these costs will go down considerably! I know that the washing machine and tumble dryer use the bulk of the monthly costs but I refuse point blank to have wet washing hanging around the house after once reading it was bad for your lungs! I only dry things on an airer that can’t be tumbled dried as I always read the labels in an effort to look after our clothes.

Socialising:- £16.20. Lunch out with friends at a Brewers Fayre where meals were 2 for £10 and a top up Diet Pepsi was £2.35.  A bite to eat and drink last Sunday night at a local pub where my bar meal was £4.95 and I spent £3.90 on drinks.

Other:- £57.59. I bought two No7 Protect and Perfect gift sets in the Boots 70% off sale £4.80 each reduced from £16..  I bought 10 birthday cards for £1 in an effort to never get caught without a card! I bought a birthday card for a relatives birthday and put £10 in it.  I get my hair hi-lighted roughly every six weeks and that cost me £36 including blow dry.

Lessons Learned

Food: More than happy with the amount spent and the quality of food we eat. Will take advantage of half price meat deals in an effort to get more out of a roast dinner.

Utilities: Actually astonished by the gas and electricity costs, lets see how I can get it down for Frugal February.

Socialising: Very happy with the amount spent. I don’t go out often so there will be months with a zero spend.

Frugal February has kicked off with two no spend days so far and enough on the meters to last us a good few days yet!

How is your Frugal February going?